26 October 2011

Previous Next

Lot 201

c.1935 Bugatti Type 52 “Bebe”

  • Chassis no. 449 A

Sold for £24,640

3.5 hp, 12-volt electric motor mounted on back axle, single-speed, with switch to reverse polarity, semi-elliptic springs front and rear live axle, front and rear mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 1,350 mm

• One of about 500 Bugatti Type “Bebe” 52s built between 1927-36
• Half-scale model of Type 35/51
• 12-volt electric motor, top speed 15-18 km/h
• Detachable alloy wheels, pneumatic tyres, opening hood

These “Bebe” Bugattis were modelled on the Type 35 and 51, which were very successful racers at the time. This was an expensive and desirable toy for children of the wealthy in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and races were staged for them at Deauville and Monte Carlo.

The first car was built for Ettore’s five-year-old son, Roland, for the 1925 Milan show. But what was thought of as a joke turned out to have remarkable staying power. These are often referred to as the Type 52, but it’s believed the factory just called them the “Bebe.” They were aimed at children between six and eight years old. Early models were built on a 47-inch wheelbase; later cars were stretched to 53 inches. Altogether approximately 500 “Bebes” were built between 1927 and 1935.

The car features pneumatic tyres, detachable alloy wheels, a dummy radiator and an opening hood and is powered by a 12-volt battery with a single forward speed. The throttle is connected to a rheostat on the electric motor above the rear axle, and with a simple switch you can reverse polarity and create a reverse gear. Top speed is 15-18 km/h or about 11 mph flat out—perhaps not enough to escape mom or pop!

Restored some time ago in Belgium to concours standards, chassis 449 A sports the longer wheelbase suitable for slightly older children. It became a great status symbol at fashionable French resorts, such as Deauville, where children raced them along the wooden boardwalks by the sea. This one is a must-have addition to any collection of ‘adult-sized’ French sports cars.


Please note that the buyer's premium for is 17% + VAT. Please note that this motorcycle comes with an old style Italian log book.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more